Following the January 6th riot, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says security upgrades are still needed to better protect the U.S. Capitol but he disagrees with some of the initial recommendations in a report released on Monday.
The task force called for spending $500-million on additional security measures, including keeping a National Guard presence in Washington D.C. for another two months. Grassley, a Republican, says that’s unnecessary.
Grassley says, “We’re waiting for people that are studying it to make that decision but we don’t have to be spending a half a billion dollars, just a million dollars a day just for the fence that’s being maintained, and it’s a temporary fence.”
A retired Army lieutenant general and others on the task force are calling for significant changes to bolster security around the Capitol and to speed the emergency response.
“He said we need a thousand more policemen. I think we have about 1,800 now,” Grassley says. “This is just for the five or six blocks around Capitol Hill and we’ve had that number of policemen for a long time.”
Grassley says law enforcement needs better training, especially in crowd control, and better communication is also needed between the House and Senate as well as between the police and the sergeant-at-arms. Grassley recalled the days when his wife would drive him to work and drop him off at the Capitol steps. While acknowledging more security is needed, he doesn’t want to see Washington become a fortress.
“I don’t have an answer except to wait and see what these people recommend,” Grassley says. “I don’t see the need for a permanent fence and yet there’s people advocating that.”
The senator agrees with the task force’s recommendation to streamline the chain of command to deploy the National Guard in an emergency situation. Grassley notes it took four or five hours for the guard to respond during the unrest in January and a more immediate response is needed. Some 5,000 National Guard troops remain on-duty in Washington, though most of them are scheduled to return home this week.